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10+ Tips to Get Past the Gatekeeper in Sales [+Scripts]

The dreaded gatekeeper.

You know, the secretary or assistant protecting prospects from unwanted cold calls

They do their job so well that getting past them is one of the most common challenges in B2B sales.

So, how do you get past the gatekeeper?

While there's no magic formula, there are several strategies you can try to boost your success rate. We'll be covering these in this article, as well as:

  • Gatekeeping meaning in B2B sales
  • Getting past the gatekeeper scripts
  • Gatekeeping examples

Scroll 👇 to get started.

What is a gatekeeper?

A gatekeeper in B2B sales is anyone who fields calls for a company or decision-maker. They are normally the first point of contact for businesses and include receptionists, personal assistants, secretaries or spouses and relatives. 

Gatekeeping examples include anything from “(Name) is currently in a meeting can I get them to call you back?” and “(Name) can’t take your call right now, could you email them the details?” to “(Name) isn’t interested in (service/product) at this time.”

How to get past the gatekeeper: 11 easy strategies

You’ll find that when a gatekeeper is involved you’ll have to first convince them that your call is important for the business. 

Don’t be intimidated. 

Sometimes it’s not simply a matter of getting past the gatekeeper but making a good enough first impression that they become your ally.

How do you do this and respond to gatekeeping sales objections

Here are our top 11 easy strategies proven to make an impact: 

1. Use the prospect’s cell phone number

The easiest and the best way of getting past gatekeeper is to call your prospect’s cell phone number. It’s more effective than dialling direct dials. 

Direct dials are numbers assigned to a person in a company. But the phone can be answered by an assistant or not at all if your prospect is out of the office or not at their desk.

That’s why Cognism offers the largest mobile numbers database in the US and Europe, including phone-verified mobile numbers called Diamond Data®.

Diamond Data® is more accurate than other providers. Why?

Because our data team calls the numbers to verify them. So when you call prospects, you can be sure the right person, not a gatekeeper, picks up the phone.

Here's what our customers say about Diamond Data®:

2. Do your research

The trick to getting past the gatekeeper in sales is to research your prospect and their gatekeeper.

This sounds like a lot of work, but there's a reason behind this sales tactic:

When you mention something about the gatekeeper in passing, you're showing your interest in them as more than just a job title, and connecting on a human-to-human level.

You don't want to come off creepy, so don't list what you know about them. Work your knowledge into the conversation to build credibility and to showcase that you pay attention.

💡 How to find CEO phone number?

3. No matter what, be polite

Like cold calling, the gatekeeper's job entails speaking with strangers that aren't always polite. 

Start your relationship with them by coming across as friendly and cordial. This will greatly improve your chances of bagging a meeting with your target prospect

4. Show respect 

Working hand-in-hand with staying polite is treating gatekeepers with respect. They are a fundamental part of the B2B company you’re calling and often have sway with your sales prospect.

To get past gatekeepers, illustrate how you value their time and appreciate them assisting you. In the end, being kind and friendly will go much further for you than demanding to speak to their boss. 

5. Don’t sell to the gatekeeper

While being friendly and polite can lead to rapport with gatekeepers, you don’t want to pitch to them. 

They might love what you’re selling and can put in a good word with your prospect, but they won’t be involved in the sales process or purchasing decision. Plus, they won’t have the same pain points as the decision maker in business, so they might not see the full scope of your product or service.

6. Stay calm and call on 

It can be frustrating when trying to get past the gatekeeper. 

Whatever you do, don’t lose your cool. 

Remember, they are only doing their job and no amount of frustration or anger will get you past the gatekeeper and transferred to your prospect. If anything, they won’t want to help you in the future and you’ll only succeed in ruining your reputation. 

7. Convey confidence 

Confidence is key, especially when it comes to B2B prospecting.

If you come across as anxious or stressed, a gatekeeper is more likely to serve you with a cold calling objection or excuse for why their boss can’t take your call. 

If you come across as important, you have a better chance of being transferred.

Maintain a relaxed and steady voice with a warm tone and speak slowly and with authority for a better chance of success. 

8. Just be honest 

Sometimes, all you can do is skip the sales talk and tell the gatekeeper exactly why you’re calling. Of course, this won’t always work but if you deliver your opening line in a humorous way, they might be inclined to let you pass. 

Another option is to send a cold email to your prospect introducing yourself. Then when you call, you can get past the gatekeeper by saying you’re following up on an email you sent previously. 

9. Use your prospect's first name

It’s good sales psychology to use a prospect's name during a cold call, and the same goes for speaking to a gatekeeper. 

Using someone’s name helps build trust. If you’ve requested to speak to your prospect by their first name, you’ll come across as someone who has spoken to them before, and you’ll be more likely to get past the gatekeeper. 

10. Show understanding

Much like speaking to your prospects, showing empathy, and understanding toward the gatekeeper can go a long way. What’s more, by empathising with the gatekeeper, you can get them to open up to you. This not only helps build your relationship but might unlock some interesting information when selling to your prospective buyer.

11. Try calling at another time

If you think about the best times to cold call, chances are quite a few SDRs will be calling around the same time. This can leave gatekeepers annoyed. One way to get around this is to call your prospect before or after normal work hours. 

If you’re calling an executive, they tend to either arrive earlier than other employees or stay later, so not only will you avoid the gatekeeper, but you’ll be able to initiate a one-on-one call with your prospect when they are slightly more relaxed. 

How to get past the gatekeeper? Watch this quick video with tips from Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at Jb Sales Training and David Bentham, Inside Sales Director at Cognism 👇 

Examples of gatekeeping scripts

Now on to the most important bit:

What can you say to get past the gatekeeper? 

Depending on your research, you can wing what you’ll say to convince the gatekeeper to let you speak to the decision maker. Or you can follow a script that has proven successful in getting past the gatekeeper when cold calling. 

Helping you do just that, here’s 10 getting past the gatekeeper scripts: 

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 1

One good way to get past gatekeepers is to ask for their opinion: 

“Hi (name). I’m (name) from (company name). I’d like to speak to (prospect name) regarding (offering), but I wanted to get your opinion first because I’m not sure if it’s a good fit for your team or not. Could you spare 5 minutes? I know your time is valuable, so I promise not to use more than 5 minutes.”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 2

If you've done your research well, you can make as though you’ve met the gatekeeper before. They might see right through you, or they’ll be too polite to say they don’t remember who you are. It’s one surefire way to get through to your decision maker. 

“Hi (name). It’s (name) from (company name). How was your son’s football match? I remember you mentioning it last time I was in the office to see (prospect name).”

“Glad it went well! I hope he continues his winning streak! Could you put me through to (prospect name) please? I’ve got some new business to discuss with him/her.”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 3

A notable gatekeeping skill is being able to pick up on falsehoods from cold callers immediately. So sometimes it’s just best to be honest about why you’re calling: 

“Hi (name). I’m (name) calling from (company name). Could you please help me out? I’ve got a proposal to discuss, but I’m not sure who the best person to speak to would be.”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 4

One question you can ask gatekeepers is if you can book a time to chat with your sales prospect. This way you’re appreciating their time, acknowledging they are busy and emphasising your willingness to do business on their terms. 

“Hi (name). It’s (name) from (company name). I know (prospect name) has been extremely busy lately, but could you please help me book a time to chat with him/her? It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes.” 

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 5

Staying polite will go a long way when trying to get past the gatekeeper on a cold call:

“Hi (name).Thanks so much for taking my call. I’m looking for (prospect name), I understand they handle (function). Could you please direct me?”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 6

Outbound sales rely heavily on getting past gatekeepers in outbound marketing, so you’ll need to think very carefully about how you word your rebuttal: 

“Hi (name), how are you?”

Gatekeeper: “Good thanks and you?”

“Fantastic, I’m doing well thanks. It’s (name) from (company name). Could you put me through to (prospect name) please?”

Gatekeeper: “What is this regarding?”

“I’ve got some information for them regarding (function). I was going to send it via email but I thought I better call and take a few minutes to explain before I do.”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 7

Another option is to keep it casual, ask how the gatekeeper is and act like you’ve called 1000 times before:

“Hi (name), how are you?”

Gatekeeper: “Good thanks and you?”

“Fantastic, I’m doing well thanks. It’s (name) from (company name). Could you put me through to (prospect name) please?”

Gatekeeper: “Are they expecting your call?”

“They aren’t. I was about to send a mail, but thought I better call and take a few minutes to explain the most important points before I do.”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 8

How can you get to the decision-maker at a company if gatekeepers are so skilled? Find a workaround. Sometimes less information is better:

“Hi (name). Could you put me through to (prospect name) please?”

Gatekeeper: “Do they know what this is about?”

“Not specifically, but can you tell them (name) is calling about (topic). I’m happy to hold, thanks.” 

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 9

Here’s another example of what to say to get past the gatekeeper that requests their opinion: 

“Hello (name). (Name) here from (company name). I know you and (prospect name) are focused on (pain point solution) at the moment. I was hoping to speak with them about a solution I believe will help. Do you think they’d be interested?”

How to get past the gatekeeper script example 10

And, sometimes quick and to the point is the way to go: 

“Hello (name). It’s (name). Could I speak to (prospect name) please? I’d like to follow up on an email I sent earlier this week, thanks.”

P.S. You might also be interested in our guide, “Call me on the office switchboard, said no one ever! or this article on voicemail scripts.

Skip the gatekeepers with Cognism

Think about this:

The more valid mobile number database for cold calling you have, the less you’ll have to interact with gatekeepers. 

Cognism has more accurate cell phone numbers, helping you get past the gatekeeper and cold call with confidence.

Ready to get started? Click 👇 to book your demo.

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